Saturday Morning Thoughts

June 17, 2017, by
derek stepan

Photo: AP

There’s a lot going on in the hockey world, with trades and buyouts going down and the expansion draft looming. I can’t really say I’ve got any unified thesis on the state of things, rather, I’ve got an assortment of hockey thoughts to throw out there this Saturday morning. After all, given that the trade freeze is at 3pm today and expansion draft lists are due at 5pm, things are likely to be changing soon anyways.

  • While things might seem hectic now and it may be tempting to make a move sooner rather than later, I would hope that Jeff Gorton shows some patience in potentially trading Derek Stepan. Of course it would be ideal to trade him before his No Trade Clause kicks in, but he is a valuable asset who could potentially bring home a haul – no need to pull the trigger in the next day if you’re not getting fair value. There’ll be plenty of time after the expansion draft to make trades should GMJG be so inclined.

  • As far as the expansion draft goes, I’m really not sure who Vegas will take from the Rangers, but I’m leaning either Michael Grabner or Nick Holden. This really comes down to whether they need a defenseman or a forward – they both punched above their weight class this past season in terms of point production, and both could potentially be flipped at next year’s trade deadline to contending teams for the kinds of futures Vegas will likely be trying to stockpile. Obviously I’d prefer they take Holden, but that may require the Rangers bribing the Golden Knights with some kind of prospect or draft pick – if it does cost something however I wouldn’t expect it to set us back that much, as Holden has a certain rep around the league for being reliable (he was, of course, Patrick Roy’s best defenseman) and the aforementioned point totals should make him appealing enough to Vegas.
  • Aside from who Vegas takes in the expansion draft, I’m intrigued to see if they land any big name free agents. Jumbo Joe would be bizarre but kind of cool, and I could totally see Alex Radulov signing with Vegas. The Golden Knights are sure to be a ragtag bunch given the way they’re selecting their team (picking players other teams don’t want, working out behind the scenes deals with Anaheim, getting an early shot are free agents) but I wouldn’t be shocked if they land one of the bigger fish on the FA market (not Shattenkirk though please, I want him in blue)
  • How about that Drouin trade? I guess Montreal wants their defensive group to get older rather than younger, although now they’re allegedly looking for a defenseman s who knows. What I do know is that this likely sets the market value for guys like William Nylander, David Pastrnak, et al and that the next few years are going to be interesting in terms of rising stars and the contracts they receive (or don’t).
  • Lastly, while this isn’t strictly hockey related, I’m excited to see the new jerseys unveiled. Some teams are apparently getting redesigns (the Minnesota Wild are reportedly switching to green home jerseys for example) and Adidas has already released teasers for others. What’s most crucial is that Adidas doesn’t add the three stripes to the sides of the jerseys like they did with the World Cup of Hockey jerseys – given how iconic sweaters like the Habs, Rangers, and Leafs are I really doubt it but you never know, this league always has plenty of dumb tricks up its sleeves.

Anyways those are my scattered thoughts from this evening heading into tomorrow morning. There’s a pretty solid chance that all of this turns out to be irrelevant and that we see a bunch of blockbuster trades go down, so take it all with a grain of salt and buckle up, because this next week’s going to be big. Happy Saturday!

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Categories : Musings


  1. Richter1994 says:


    Stepan, if traded is for a top pair D man or center upgrade.
    Vegas should pick Oscar if they’re smart and he’s available.

  2. Mikeyyy says:

    When does that deal kick in? Stepan nmc

    Did anyone else know Matt gilroy is an all star in the NHL now?

  3. Rich S says:

    Cant figure all the lack of respect for what Grabner did this year. He probably was our MVP, he scored 27 even strength goals, he made our PK a weapon, and did this while constantly being moved to different lines…..
    Wake up ranger fans this guy is a keeper! Wake up gorton and sign him for 3 more years……again don’t repeat the Strallman mistake and let him go…….

    Congrats to Dylan McIlrath , accd to coach big help in winning the Calder Cup!
    He now has one more professional championship ring than AV !

    • Spozo says:

      Wake up! He’s turning 30 and shot 4% higher than his career average and 9% higher than last season! Hes not going to do it again!

      • Rich S says:

        His speed is his greatest asset and I don’t think he will slow down much until he hits ….maybe 35?
        You see how much we missed hagelin 2 years ago, grabner will be missed even more!
        I will take 20 goals, great PK and speed to open things up for his linemates any time!!!!
        You cant teach Speed!
        We need to stop letting good, reasonably priced players walk away….like hagelin and strallman and even a more pricey jagr!!!!!

        • Spozo says:

          We aren’t “letting” him walk away. Someone needs to be selected through expansion. He’s not being protected. So out of everyone available, most fans believe he will be less valuable next year and the foreseeable future than Fast and Lindberg.

          Here’s a great question. Which will be higher next year? Grabner goals or NHL games played by Mcilrath?

          • Rich S says:

            Love lindbergs game, in time will make us totally forget stepan…..Fast had terrific playoffs, like his game/effort also….BUT 27 goals…….????who is making that up???

            McIlrath plays 60 plus games for Detroit, barring injury…grabner if here will score at least 20……
            BUT good question!

        • Reenavipul says:

          The thing with Grabner is that on any other team he’s back to the 15 goal scorer he’s been most of his career.

          If Step gets dealt to AZ this afternoon, then they sign & protect Lindberg, protect Murphy and hope Vegas takes Fast.

          • Mr Doe says:

            Grabner may not score 27 goals again but take a look at who his linemates were pre-rangers…his speed and defensive/pk play were why we signed him in the first place (i.e. no one expected him to score 27 goals last summer when he was inked). He shouldn’t be considered untouchable by any stretch but he is certainly an asset to the team and should try to retain him for 2-3 years without the 27 goal expectation.

          • Peter says:

            People apparently haven’t looked closely at his record. The only year he was not producing much more than a ’15 goal scorer’ was the year before he came to the Rangers when he was with Toronto. The other low goal total years were years where he did not play close to 82 games.

            Basically, a guy like Grabner needs to be in a system where his speed and his great anticipation for what the other team might do with the puck can be fully realized. The Rangers are a perfect fit for his skills. It would be great to have him for another year. That being said, I’d like to keep Oscar over Grabner because he is going to be a good center for a long time, and he is young, while Grabner is nearing 30.

    • Mintgecko says:

      Grabner fell so hard in the 2nd half, both Hayes and JT should have had at least 6-8 more points to cap the season off with. That Cali trip was brutal for him, it’s like we saw the real Grabner during that time. Zucc gets my MVP vote and then Hayes with a close second along with JT.

      Last year I came around here bad mouthing the PK directing alot of the blame to Stepan and every defense for him was that at least he had 3 points. Mind you the PK was always ranked higher than 15th in that season and finished 27th but I guess that proves your point in a way. I still say that Hayes was our best PK weapon, when healthy he was our leading center and it was ranked 6th/7th for majority of the time. He was the one who has set new NYR records on there while being SH and pushing down names like Mess and Leetch. Both Fast and Grabner were a bit overrated on there and especially during the 2nd half when there PK minutes went up.

      • Rich S says:

        He still had 27 even strength goals for us and 4 more in the playoffs!
        Zucc is one of my favorite players , but he scored only 10 even strength goals this season……and 5 more getting 1st line power play minutes…..But I could see him being our MVP since he led team in points and is a presence every shift!
        What records did hayes set? I am hopeful he can be a thornton like center for us……

        • Mintgecko says:

          He set records as a NYR in SH points along with assist by beating out Mess and Leetch.

      • Peter says:

        Gecko, Grabner had 4 goals in the playoffs, and he was injured at one point in the second half. Your analysis really does not make a lot of sense to me.

    • Bobby B says:

      Spot on 2x Big Rich, Grabber needs to remain a NYR. We dropped the ball on Mcllrath. He will be a stud for the RED WINGS for years to come.

      • Rich S says:

        Bobby B,
        You and a few others get it! Speed, scoring and toughness is what wins hockey games! Not soft , slow players or ‘systems’…..

  4. Dan says:

    Is it just me or does Galchenyuk for Stepan make a lot of sense?

    Montreal gets their 2 way center after Drouin slots in at center #1 for them. We get an offensive center who can be 1A and 1B with Zbad. And Hayes and Lindberg will slot in as 3rd line center and 4th line center.

    • Mintgecko says:

      Watch for Hayes to still take the 2c role with Galchenyuk as his winger. I think that would even be the case if Duchene got traded here. I get it that the kid is a natural center but he was one of those players that had to break into the league by playing wing, kind of like JT who seems to be more permanent over there. I just look at the damage Hayes did in a defensive role on the 3rd line with one of the faster player’s who hasn’t lit up the lamp since his days of being a Islander. I could see the guy who put up his best season as a winger might stay that way especially if he can score with a passer like Hayes.

      It sounds like JG wants a top RHD for Stepan though.

    • Rich S says:

      Would make that trade yesterday!!!!!!

    • Reenavipul says:

      Galchenyuk isn’t a center, no matter how he tries.

      • Mintgecko says:

        Yeah I totally agree, but I think people here assume that he would take that 2c spot.

  5. Perry says:

    If Rangers talking to Arizona about Stepan they must be asking Connor Murphy

  6. Perry says:

    Why would Arizona want Stepan don’t they want to get younger or do they want a mentor for Domi etc. Isn’t that Doan’so job?

    • Mintgecko says:

      If they keep tabs on Stepan then there’ll be no trades involving him to be a mentor unless they want someone like Nash. Did you ever noticed how none of the young guys ever talk about Stepan nor did any of those vets like Drury and Richards? True leadership for acquiring him would be a mistake on the Yotes on part. If anything Domi could teach a thing or two to Stepan.

      I know someone from LP NY who knew the Hayes family and I guess KH was in the area at one point in the summer. The information that I have on what it’s like in the locker-room would suggest that Stepan isn’t taken seriously. I’ll drop one positive and name to it and say that Kreider is like the only friend of his on the team.

    • Reenavipul says:

      Arizona is just shy of $7mm below the floor, even with all their RFA’s to sign they’re still short of the floor and a center old enough to buy a beer or play 1st line minutes for at least this season.

      With the ownership re-shuffle they’re gonna want to get competitive and while Murphy’s a good guy and player, the Coyotes can afford to move him.

      Doaner is a 3rd liner at best right now, but up front the rest of the roster is still wet behind the ears.

      If they go Stepan for Murphy straight up I’ll take it; if they can throw in Staal with a pick coming back it’ll be highway robbery.

      • Perry says:

        I think they would have to get a prospect along with Murphy for Step they have some nice young centers and we may need one if we lose Lindberg to Vegas

        • Perry says:

          Murphy and D’Angelo for Step and Holden ?

        • Reenavipul says:

          If Step goes out, then it goes without saying they protect Lindberg. AZ isn’t dealing any of their centers.

          I don’t care about calculating pick values, I let the big boys figure that out.

          • Perry says:

            They have to protect the player/players they get back and they just added Cousins

            • Reenavipul says:

              Duh, well, gee Tennessee, I *never* thought of that. (look above thread @12:32)

              If they get Murphy back, they have a spot for him.

            • Perry says:

              Azi just added Cousins

              • Reenavipul says:

                We should just hand them the cup, then.

                Nothing puts a team over the top like a dwarf who has only broken 30g once from junior on.

      • Reenavipul says:

        With Smith out the door Arizona is now $15mm below the floor and that doesn’t include $7.5mm of guys on LTIR.

        They can lose a D but are paper thin up front.

        It’s a shame that they didn’t get something done before the deadline, now Vegas can blackmail both teams as the spoiler in any transaction.

  7. wwpd says:

    will be funny if this ends up like all those trade deadlines where there like one or two major trades in the days before and then nothing else interesting happens

  8. Five Hole says:

    Isn’t Holden the 3rd protected D-man?

    • Perry says:

      That’s the talk since they bought out G but don’t have to finalize until 5pm things can change with trade. Looks like smith going to Calgary. Could Raanta be in play with Stepan??

    • Reenavipul says:

      Holden exposed, Smith protected.

  9. craig says:

    Better wait and see if Vegas takes Lindberg before we are so quick to trade Stepan, even though he is expensive. I really hate to see Lindberg go. To lose two centers would be a big hit for us…

    • Richter1994 says:

      That’s why I refuse to believe that the Rangers do not have a side deal with Vegas.

      • Jerry says:

        Agree completely.

        • Richter1994 says:

          Lots of smoke around the Rangers and the Yutes doing a blockbuster trade, with the main piece being Stepan.

          And while it sounds crazy, OEL is not untouchable. The Yutes need centers, wingers, and a goalie, which translates to Stepan, Miller, and Raanta fr OEL. Yutes are stocked with young D men, so not impossible.

          And if this trade happens, Skjei and a pick for Trouba? Staal would have to go for Shatty to sign to make all this work.

          • craig says:

            Call me stupid Richter, what is OEL and Yutes stand for. What am I missing? I wouldn’t trade Skjei for Trouba unless maybe it is just a righty, lefty thing, even then I wouldn’t. Skjei keeps getting better and better and I really like this kids potential! I seriously doubt they go the Trouba route. Also, Give up another draft pick to boot? Ugh…

            • ANGRY WIENER DOG STAMPEDE says:

              As much as I like Skjei, to conflate him with Trouba is… a bit much.

              Trouba, by some models, was the second best NHL d man last year in terms of impact; nevermind the fact he’s a RHD, which is a rarity in the NHL.

              • craig says:

                Offensively no better then Skjei. Is he a better skater? Skjei is a very fast skater. Is really so much better defensively?
                Not arguing. It’s just that I haven’t really seen him play. Beside being a righty defenseman, what makes him that much better then Skjei? I would think he also makes a good deal more money we’d have to pay him,

              • ANGRY WIENER DOG STAMPEDE says:

                I think Dave wrote something a while back (I could be wrong on who wrote it) explaining how much of an impact having a guy who naturally plays RHD on the right side has upon the game. It (having properly matched pairings) makes a significant difference in metrics such as cf % etc.

                As for how significant? Something like the difference between having Girardi out there (worst possession numbers in he NHL) versus a slightly below average defenseman.

                Think of it like this – if you’re playing on your offhand side, wouldn’t you be getting passes to the backhand of your curved stick?

              • ANGRY WIENER DOG STAMPEDE says:

                I think Dave (could be wrong) wrote a piece on how strong of an effect properly matched defensemen have on the game. In metrics such as cf % (possession statistic), it meant, when you account for the quality of defenseman used, an average of 3-4 points in cf% gain.

                In English, that’s the difference between Girardi (a guy with low 40’s cf%) and a below average to middling defenseman. In other words, it makes a huge difference.

                Think of it like this – if you played on your offhand side as a defenseman, wouldn’t you be receiving passes on your backhand (with a curved stick)?

          • HARLEMBLUES says:

            Smoking again 94 because trading Skeji for Trouba is stupid. Brady is Trouba and makes less money. You would be over paying but the Rangers like to done that. JT stays.

            • ANGRY WIENER DOG STAMPEDE says:

              Disagree strongly about that. Skjei is no Trouba.

              If you can show any tangible evidence whatsoever to the contrary, then I’m all ears.

              I’ve never seen a model or set of statistics that ever confused the two (except for a cute ‘total playoff points’ type thing).

              • craig says:

                Offensively no better then Skjei. Is he a better skater? Skjei is a very fast skater. Is really so much better defensively?

            • craig says:

              That’s my point, how much better is this guy and will it turn the team around? It makes no sense to me for a trade like that. I don’t think it will happen unless maybe its Stepan and a throw in for Truoba.

            • Richter1994 says:

              With all due respect? and I love Brady, Skjei is not in the same stratosphere as Trouba. Trouba is top D man in the league and Skjei is not the top D man on his team.

              I may be smoking, but not now my friend, lol.

              • craig says:

                Thanks Richter! I guess what you mean is that he is volumes better defensively in his zone (other then that, the stats have them pretty even). I know Trouba is slightly younger, but has a bit more NHL experience under his belt. Maybe this year they will be more comparable as Skjei gains more experience. I believe Trouba has a little more of a mean strike in him which the Rangers could certainly use.
                Appreciate your input my friend.

              • Richter1994 says:

                Not only that craig, Trouba’s offense is just scratching the surface. after a slow start due to his holdout, Trouba was scoring pts at better than .5 pts per game.

              • Richter1994 says:

                and you’re welcome pal.